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Mafia hire heat on Shettys
- Sari firm accuses Shilpa parents of extortion using underworld

Ahmedabad/Mumbai, May 16: The latest charge has a twist in the plot: Bollywood has gone seeking out the underworld, not the other way round.

Surat police have issued warrants against Shilpa Shetty’s parents on charges of hiring goons to “extort” money from a sari company for which the actress had modelled five years ago.

Shilpa’s father Surendra Shetty today moved a sessions court for anticipatory bail. The plea will come up for hearing on Saturday. In his plea, Surendra said he would reach Surat at the earliest to get regular bail and would cooperate in the case.

A Surat police team has already reached Mumbai and spoken to Shilpa’s sister and upcoming actress Shamita.

Shilpa is now at the Cannes film festival to present an “item” number. Like Aishwarya Rai’s presence in the jury, Shilpa’s performance is also a first for Bollywood in Cannes.

The police said the company, Praful Saris, has alleged that Shilpa’s parents, Surendra and Sunanda, had sought Rs 1 crore more for the ad film featuring the actress. When a legal notice sent by Sunanda went unheeded, two members of the Fazlu Rehman gang called the proprietor, Pankaj Agarwal, and asked him to pay up, they added.

One of the gangsters, Imran, alias Dinesh Shetty, has been arrested on a complaint filed by the sari company. The other has been identified as Uday Shetty.

Surat police commissioner V.K. Gupta said that according to the agreement between Shilpa and the company, Rs 25 lakh was to be paid for the commercial film. The amount had been paid.

However, as there was no written agreement specifying how many times and how long the film could be shown, Shilpa’s parents asked for money for continuous screening of the film.

The company said in its complaint that after it ignored the notice for more money, Agarwal started receiving extortion calls from the Mumbai underworld.

Following a complaint lodged by Agarwal, the police traced the call to Mumbai and arrested Imran, who is a member of a gang led by Fazlu Rehman – a feared name in Gujarat. Fazlu Rehman operates from Malaysia and is known for targeting industrialists for extortion.

Outside the sessions court this evening, Shilpa’s father said the charges against him were fabricated. , Surendra said he has no links with the underworld, nor has he approached any member of the mafia to recover Shilpa’s dues.

“I have no idea about such a complaint being made against me,” he said. “The police have not questioned me on this.”

The controversy marks a departure from the usual film industry cases which dealt with threats from the underworld to stars. Actors and actresses have been browbeaten by the mafia to act in films in which the underworld has a stake. Threats have been used not just to get bulk dates from busy stars but also to armtwist them into reducing their rates.

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